After months of protest by students that increased over the last few days, the administration of the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) in Delhi on Wednesday announced a partial roll-back in the fee hike and help for students of economically weaker sections.
The officer said the JNU body has also presented a scheme to offer financial help to students from the Economically Weaker Sections (EWS). The students’ union had been on a protest against the draft hostel manual, approved by the Inter-Hall Administration (IHA), which it claims has provisions for the hostel fee hike, dress code, and curfew timings. The students from Left-backed political outfits have been protesting against the hike in hostel fees for almost a fortnight, and the representatives from Rashtriya Swamsevak Sangh (RSS) student wing, Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), have also planned to march to the UGC office over similar demands.
The students, who had been objecting plans for what they claim is a huge hike in hostel fees, amped up their protest on Monday as the university held its convocation which was attended by Vice President Venkaiah Naidu and HRD Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’. They had surrounded the building where the event was being conducted. The Minister was stuck for more than 6 hours at the venue.
Hundreds of protesting students had clashed with the police on Monday. Policemen in riot gear, fully outnumbered by the students, were seen pushing the crowd. The students, demanding a meeting with Vice-Chancellor M Jagadesh Kumar, were pacified by the HRD ministry officials, who assured their concerns would be addressed. The Union Minister had also met Aishi Ghosh, president of the JNU Students Union.
Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union (JNUSU) president Aishi Ghosh stated, “That day police used tear gas, lathi charge on us. Why were people striking that day even after getting degrees? Our protest will continue until the vice-chancellor meets us,”
“The administration said the students didn’t want to have a dialogue while the situation is the other way round. We have been approaching the administration but there is nobody to talk to,” she added. “JNU Executive Committee announces major roll-back in the hostel fee and other stipulations. It also presents a scheme for economic assistance to EWS students. It’s Time to get back to classes,” Education Secretary R Subrahmanyam tweeted.
Under the new proposal by the JNU’s executive committee, the rent for a double-seater room, which was hiked to Rs. 200 per month from Rs. 10 per month earlier, has now been reduced to Rs. 100 per month. Rent for the single-seater room, proposed at Rs. 600 per month from Rs. 20 per month earlier, has been decreased to Rs. 200 per month. The one-time refundable mess security fee has been raised from Rs. 5,500 to Rs. 12,000.
The students had claimed that the university is facing an “academic emergency” created by the administration. Repeating their demands, they said a meeting on hostel rules be reconvened in the presence of student representatives and all “regressive parts” concerning clothing/timings/etc. be revoked.
“The 999% fee hike from Rs. 2,740 to Rs. 30,100 annually must be rolled back immediately,” said a statement released on Monday.